4-hour layover at IAH airport? Lucky you!

Greeting from Houston – mural by Daniel Anguilu and Frank Nathan. Pictured: Art Curator Alton DuLaney and Harriet Baskas

Many people dread and try desperately to avoid long airport layovers. Not us. On our journey to the Galapagos, we swapped a stress-inducing 56-minute connection at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) for a four-hour layover at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Just so we could get a tour of the art.

Countree Music by Terry Allen – created 1999

Alton DuLaney, Director and Curator of the Public Art Program for the Houston Airport System, was kind enough to meet me for a tour of some of his favorites. You can see the full list, with photos, in our story for The Points Guy site.

But I’ve pulled out a couple of my favorites here.

The Houston Airport, which operates both IAH and Hobby Airport (HOU) owns more than 350 works of art, one of the largest public art collections in Texas. Art curator DuLaney is a proponent of displaying as much of the collection as possible. So if you take a walk in any direction at the airport you will spot art. Some of it you’ll love. Some of it you may not care for. But all of it adds to the experience of being at the airport.

Countree Music (the ‘tree’ image above), is one of the first works purchased for the airport back in 1991. It is in Terminal A and was created by singer-songwriter Terry Allen. He also created the terrazzo floor surrounding the tree that depicts a map showing Houston as the center of the world. Pick a spot to stand on that floor near the tree and listen: there’s an original soundtrack of 16 songs recorded by Allen with the help of various musicians, including David Byrne from the Talking Heads.

Fiesta Dancers by Latino artist Luis Jimenez shown alongside High Flying by Larry Schuekler

The Terminal A Connector Gallery is both filled with art and is a great spot to avoid the noise and hustle of the airport. Here, away from the gates and the overhead announcements, you’ll find 20 vitrines filled with new and existing artwork from the collection- sometimes in the same display case.

For example, Fiesta Dancers by Luis Jimenez is paired with High Flying by Larry Schuekler. “Both sculptures explore the joy of dance from two different cultural perspectives,” says DuLaney.

(Photos courtesy Houston Airports)

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